How to Select the Right Physical Therapy College Near Talladega Alabama
Obtaining a physical therapist degree near Talladega AL is an important first step to beginning a rewarding career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the proper training and education. A PT must also be licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to research the ones you are thinking about to make sure they will furnish a superior education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is select a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated besides location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.
What Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists work in a variety of locations, such as Talladega AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they design a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Talladega AL medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degree Options
There are three physical therapist degrees available for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the one degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Talladega AL area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are usually made available by community colleges, and take about two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a portion of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy education to ready candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they generally require four years to complete and usually include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated in order to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program must also be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to complete, making the overall investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential element along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in some states for licensing as well.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer attainable in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Online Schools
Although not as prevalent as the on campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online portion of the course of study may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Talladega AL residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition might be significantly lower than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapist Schools
By now you undoubtedly have made a decision regarding some of your preliminary questions, like the kind of physical therapist degree you want to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are so many PT colleges within the Talladega AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to look into other qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of school options. Moreover, you need to make certain that you enroll in the school that is right for you. That's why we have put together a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited? Ask if the schools you are considering have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As previously stated, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you choose an online college, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the Program's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Get in touch with a few Talladega AL physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your program selections. It may also be a good idea to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a two useful statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapy programs you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might mean that students left because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Talladega AL area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care community is good or perhaps outstanding. It also verifies that the program has a wide network of contacts to help students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you choose provides both excellent training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental exams.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the physical therapy colleges you are evaluating have associations with Talladega AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great means to receive practical training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may help students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Talladega health care community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy college they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Talladega AL home. Students who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Support Provided? The majority of DPT schools offer some type of financial aid to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance department and find out what type of assistance is offered. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. Some physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial aid might be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapy school you finally choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Talladega AL area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Talladega Physical Therapist School
Picking the best physical therapist program is an important initial decision you have to make to begin a rewarding career in the healthcare field. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you enroll in should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are other relevant questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy program keep in mind that numerous variables will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You may decide to visit different schools to view their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the proper training and education, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Talladega Alabama.